Gary Bettman’s Winnipeg Quotes Translated

Not that I’d ever accuse the Commissioner of the National Hockey League of doublespeak. However, I do believe his keynote address at the media conference announcing the NHL’s return to Winnipeg may have been filled with statements that could use some clarification. What follows, are his direct quotes, followed by my interpretations:

“It is clear that times have changed for Winnipeg as an NHL market and this is a wonderful time to add a club to Canada.” – If the Thrashers deal didn’t get done, there are four or five others we could have dropped in here.

“The NHL has a different economic system that allows the so-called ‘smaller markets’ to compete.” – Due to the free fall of the American dollar because of the incredible mismanagement of the U.S. banking system, we no longer refer to the Canadian dollar as a “Mexican subway token.”

Gary Bettman: “Umm, global warming has made Winnipeg just like Vancouver, right?”

“The NHL is coming off another season of record revenues in both Canada and the United States, and our prospects remain extraordinarily bright.” –  With the Canadian dollar flying high, we could move a team to Moose Jaw and make money, if we needed to.

“This venue, the MTS Centre, will be a fine, fine home for an NHL club.” – Did you know there’s a Boston Pizza right in the place?! There’s a Boston Pizza right in the place!!

“And there is the strength of the prospective ownership group.” – I’m hoping to convince David Thomson to buy a few more franchises. Like an art collection.

“…to be candid, this isn’t going to work very well unless this building is sold out every night.” – I know this because I have extensive experience with empty seats. We once…umm..twice..had teams in Atlanta.

“As we have said repeatedly, we don’t like to move franchises. ” – At least, not out of Phoenix.

“As we have said repeatedly, we don’t like to move franchises.” – I don’t own retirement property in Atlanta.

“As we have said repeatedly, we don’t like to move franchises.” – Not my fault. Sometimes franchises let themselves go, stop going to the gym, stop dressing nice for me after a I get home from a hard day of commissioning. Tough love. You’ll thank me later.

“The fans in both cities have been through a lot in the past several weeks and hopefully everyone is now in a position to move forward.” – This doesn’t have to be all weird, right? Let’s be friends, Atlanta.

“We get to be back in a place we wish we hadn’t left in 1996.” – Ya gotta believe me, baby, I’m not the same man! Sure, I left you when you were down on your luck and broke. And, sure, I took the car and all your cd’s…but…but…baby…I’ll never do it again! I’ve chaaaaanged! Come on, now, sugar…I brought you a present….

 [box border=”full”]To read MR. BETTMAN, TEAR DOWN THIS LINE, click here. [/box]

Hockey Canada’s New Headshot Rules: Necessary Medicine?

There’s really no doubt that a person’s head should be treated with the utmost respect when playing any kind of sport. Your own head, yes, and, of course, your opponent’s. Deliberately or recklessly intending to injure an opponent’s head (or any other body part, for that matter) is something, I think, we can all agree, needs to be discouraged. But Hockey Canada’s new rules go beyond punishing reckless players and discouraging that kind of on-ice decision making. At the pro level, I think one of these new rules wouldn’t be at all appropriate. However, in a kids’ game, perhaps it’s necessary as we endeavour to keep our little ones as safe as possible, while they learn and enjoy the game that is every Canadian’s birthright. That rule: A two-minute penalty for accidentally contacting an opponent’s head.

Hockey Canada Head Bob Nicholson: “As safe as possible.”


A  penalty for an intentional action that ends up having a player’s head contacted makes sense. A penalty for an unintentional action that results in the same thing, at fist blush, seems like punishing a kid  for spilling a glass of water on someone the same as you would punish him or her for throwing a glass of water on someone. A consistent march of players to the penalty box for unintentionally knocking an opponent’s head will likely lead to a less-aggressive style of play in minor hockey. Let’s face it, if little Johnny or Jenny is forechecking and in reaching for the puck, accidentally strikes the defenceman in the helmet with their elbow while that defenceman is also reaching for the puck, and is sent to the box for two minutes — well, little Johnny or Jenny may decide that it’s not worth being so aggressive the next time. Certainly if it happens on a number of occasions, the kid’s not going to continue to play with as much aggressiveness. Over a period of time, all the little Johnnys and Jennys have their games shaped in this fashion, and all the other little Johnnys and Jennys out there get a little more room on the ice.

In our pro’s, that’s not the type of hockey we want to see. We like aggressiveness. That’s called hustle. We tend to tolerate errors of commission more than we tolerate errors of omission, in our hockey players. Penalizing pros in a way that Hockey Canada has decided to penalize kids, would make less sense. It might turn the NHL into the equivalent of a touch football league. There’s a very important distinction here. Goal number one in pro hockey is not the same as goal number one in kids’ hockey. In the NHL, it’s to entertain. To thrill.  In minor hockey, it’s to keep kids as safe as possible. Fostering a less aggressive style of hockey for youngsters will provide them with a little bit safer atmosphere. Penalizing players for unintentionally putting an opponent’s health at risk is a good thing for 10 year olds. Teaches them, at an early age, that they are indeed responsible for the consequences of their actions, whether those results were intended or not. From that, respect for the dangerous possibilities will be instilled. That respect, once fortified, can form the backbone of a more aggressive game, as they get older and make the jump to competitive junior hockey and on into the pros.

That could lead to  a happy development, a generation of players down the road. A return to something that many believe has been long lost in the NHL. Respect. The National Hockey League seems only partially dedicated to, or capable of, its restoration. Continuing to wait for a fix at the top levels of the game seems fruitless. Cultivation at a much lower level, if done reasonably and patiently, may actually lead to some bounty at the pro level, in the future.


THE NUTSHELL: Bush, Bettman, Flutie, and Popsicle Sticks

A weekly feature, with a collection of random thoughts on random things.


  • If this Winnipeg deal ever gets done, I’ve some ideas as to how Gary Bettman should make his grand re-entrance to Winnipeg. If he wants to keep it simple, may I suggest he just step onto the escalator at the airport and, as he descends, spread his arms wide and bellow “I’m back, baby! Miss me?” Parachuting in to Portage and Main would be way cool, but would come with the possible hazard of the good folk of Winnipeg converging and beating the living hell out of him for taking their team away in the first place. Best to keep one’s distance. So, being carried to the dais at the media conference, in a giant egg, and bursting forth in latex would seem to be the ticket. It would prove he’s hip with the pop culture of the day, and also keep him protected from the masses for as long as possible.

  • While watching Hockey Night in Canada, I heard the comment that Wayne Gretzky was one of the best ever at dumping the puck in. High praise, indeed. Got me to thinking: What other superstars were really good at mundane sports chores? For my money, nobody in the history of baseball issued an intentional walk better than Nolan Ryan. I’ve never seen a quarterback take a knee like Doug Flutie. I know, I know, Joe Montana was really good at it, too. I just think Flutie was a little better. No argument about this one: No racer ever followed a pace car like Mario Andretti.


  • Just another reason to bemoan the passing of Donald Trump’s presidential ambition: Trump/Busey would have been one hell of a ticket. Had they actually won, Gary Busey would have become probably the 2nd craziest Vice President in U.S. history, right behind Dick Cheney.
  • The NDP trotted out its “shadow cabinet” this week. Or, as the Tories call it, “cute.” Leader Jack Layton has vowed that his team will not heckle government speakers. But, I didn’t hear him rule out dressing in orange spandex bodysuits and dancing up on them.

  • Bob Rae accepted the job of Interim Liberal Leader. He was, at a caucus meeting, asked  if he had any skeletons in his closet. He joked: “I said I don’t have any skeletons in my cupboard; they’re in my living room.” Actually, there are skeletons littering most ridings across Canada, all wearing “Ignatieff 2011” buttons.


  • So long, Oprah. Your extended goodbye was so long. So… so… long.
  • There’s the growing notion that China’s factories are feeling the energy squeeze and that some of them are becoming too expensive to run. Global Sticks, manufacturer of wooden popsicle sticks, is relocating from China, to Thunder Bay.I just hope they’re not ever bought out by one of those fancy-dan composite popsicle stick manufacturers. Call me old school, but I like my popsicles on good ol’ sticks of wood, not those crappy, new-fangled carbon fibre deals. Sure, they’re lighter and make it easier to lift a popsicle to your mouth, but they shatter too easily when you try to bust your popsicle in half on the counter. Not to mention that $49.95 seems a little steep for a popsicle.

    A worker at Harpo Productions cat naps on some of the materials used to build Oprah’s self-indulgence.
  • Porter Airlines can dress up their little raccoon mascot all they want. It’s just like a defence attorney getting his client a haircut and new suit before trial. Because, no matter how often I see their commercial with that respectable, well-behaved raccoon walking through the terminal in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase, I know – I KNOW- that little felon dumped my green bin all over my front yard before the airport limo came by to pick him up.
  • Bob Dylan turned 70 this week. Apparently, friends took him to Dairy Queen to celebrate with an ice cream cake. It was there that Dylan told the young woman behind the counter: “Ya gotta soft-serve somebody.”



People in Toronto won’t cheer for the Vancouver Canucks because the west dumps on Toronto all the time. Because of this, people in Vancouver will dump on Toronto. Because of that, people in Toronto won’t root for the Canucks. Because of that… (cue Elton john singing “Circle of Life.”)


[box border=”full”]Previously, in THE NUTSHELL[/box]


[box border=”full”]To read the next “THE NUTSHELL,” click here. [/box]


Rookie MP Guidebook Part 3: Behaviour in the House

The third installment in my behind-the-scenes look at a top-secret guidebook given to all 105 rookie MPs on Parliament Hill.

The House Of Commons: Those high ceilings make it tempting. But, please, no beach balls.

Today, some highlights from the guide’s rules of appropriate behaviour in the House of Commons:

As you first set foot in the House of Commons, you will notice the plush, green carpet under your feet. Please treat it with great care, as it is only steam-cleaned once per day (twice, if  Stephane Dion’s Parliament Hill Fight Club has met). Proper footwear is required at all times. Going barefoot is not allowed and has not been since Pierre Trudeau had the carpet replaced with a deep, luxurious shag, for one session in 1974.

When you take your seat, you will notice a few things: There are 3 headset jacks. One is for English translation, the second is for french translation and the third is hardwired into the Galaxie Music Network. Be careful not to get too involved in enjoying the music when the opposition is speaking as nodding your head to the beat may be falsely construed as you being in total agreement with the member. Those listening to the heavy metal channel are asked to refrain from smacking their heads on their desk. Again, this may be misconstrued as support for the member who has the floor.

The Speakers’ Chair is OFF-LIMITS. We do not believe we have to explain that any further. But in case it’s not clear, please refer to the “Inappropriate Behaviour” section, subsection: “After Hours Visitors”, sub-sub-section: “Maxime Bernier.”

“Mr. Speaker, this is an affront to all Canadians. My audio feed should have an all-Chilliwack channel.”

House of Commons Pages are there to assist you. They may relay messages, research precedent and refill water glasses. They may not “go for smokes,”  throw rose petals at your feet as you enter, or sit in for you “for this lame-ass vote on amendments to the Parks Canada procedural guide.”

At the request of the Prime Minister, trap doors have been installed under the seats of all MPs. They are connected to a switch at his desk. Do not be alarmed by a sudden free-fall out of the chamber. Stay calm, curl tightly into a ball and attempt to roll as you land. You will be greeted by a Party Whip, who will inform you as to your House re-admittance time, or escort you to the Parliamentary Library, where you will spend the rest of the session with a rag and a can of “Pledge.”

“Hear, hear,” accompanied by a pounding of your desktop is an acceptable utterance of agreement. “Eat it, Bee-atch!” accompanied by “Double-gunning” of “Devil’s hands” is not. NOTE: One exception to this rule is if John Baird makes a righteous smackdown of an opposition MP.

“Shame,” or  “outrageous” are acceptable forms of derision in the House. Giving “the raspberry” is not, unless you are in the front row, where your spittle will not affect the member seated directly in front of you, and can be effectively removed by the carpet cleaners that evening.

When the Speaker adjourns for the lunch session, leave in a calm, orderly fashion. Do not push or run. The shortage of fajitas in the Parliament Hill Cafeteria has been addressed. There will be plenty for all.

In answer to the most frequently asked question we’ve had from rookie MPs: Yes. When you rise for your first question, ever, in the House, you may take out your iphone and snap a self-portrait of yourself. Be aware, however, that Marc Garneau is quite adept at “photo bombing” new members at this moment.

Finally, no “tweeting” while you are in session, unless it is a blurb about official government business. “OMG, this place smells like old people! #boring” is not official government business.

Enjoy the House Of Commons. It’s like being in a class you really hate, but don’t even have to listen, because some nerd (CPAC) is taking notes for you.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Previously: Handling The Media[/box]


THE NUTSHELL: Gaga, Arnold, Bettman and the Gremlin.

A weekly feature, with a collection of random thoughts on random things. This is the first edition.


Lady Gaga: If she’s so powerful, how come not everyone goes to work in a giant egg?
  • Lady Gaga (I prefer to pronounce it with the emphasis on the last syllable, by the way. Try it, it’s fun!) has just been named, by Forbes Magazine, the world’s most powerful celebrity, bumping Oprah Winfrey to number two. If that gets you a little down. Ms. Winfrey, just do what I do and try to buy your way out of that depression. For me, it might mean new shoes, or tickets to a game. With your spending power, it might mean, oh, I don’t know, a state, say. “Oprahoma” has a nice ring to it.
  • Someone needed to tell Arnold Schwarzenegger that non-natives can’t be President of the United States. Then he wouldn’t have tried so hard to be like Thomas Jefferson.
  • Downside: An 89 year old pastor in the U.S. predicts the end of the world this weekend. Upside: The “Glee” 3D movie will never see the light of day.



  • The NHL was given the League OF The Year Award, Wednesday, by Sports Business Journal. Nice get. I can see how they’d beat the NFL, NBA, CFL and MLB. But beating The Justice League of America, well, that’s very impressive. Commissioner Gordon? He couldn’t carry Gary Bettman’s codpiece.
  • The State of Ohio has passed legislation making it a-okay to carry concealed weapons in places such as bars and open-air sports stadiums. David Letterman used to make a joke about “Hard Liquor and Handgun Night” at Yankees’ games. Nice to know that some of those level-headed, mask-wearing drunks in the Dog Pound at Browns’ games might now be packing.
    “Why can’t I get Ben Eager’s deal?”
  • That now-infamous moment in Game Two of the Canucks – Sharks series where a young woman flashed ’em at the penalty box? Wasn’t she showing she was, in fact, more eager, than Ben? And about as smart?
  • My Argos season tickets arrived today. If you’re a season ticket holder of any team, in any league, you know the unbridled joy and pure, pure giddiness this inspires. Honestly. What is it about the arrival of my season tickets that makes me feel like I’m 10 years old, it’s Christmas, and I just this moment opened a package with my brand new “Super-Slider Sno-Skates” in it?
  • Those Honda Civic ads I see over and over and over AND OVER on Hockey Night In Canada make me pine for the days when I saw those “Roll Up The Rim” ads over and over and over AND OVER again, during The Brier. Not sure who I’m supposed to be most like. The zombie? The masked avenger? (The Avenger, now there was a good car) The troll putting on make-up? The cartoon samurai girl come to life? The trans-gendered lumberjack? Well, at least the accompanying tune is cool. But I need some sort of gimmick before I get a Civic.



  • Here’s a little nugget from Jane Taber’s Ottawa Notebook in the Globe and Mail, re: Stephen Harper’s ridiculous Senate appointments: “One of Mr. Harper’s MPs suggested that the Prime Minister is no longer trying to kill the Liberal Party but has instead decided to become the Liberal Party.” Ouch. Wonder who that was. Doubt it was Peter Kent, who doubled back on criticism of The Party during the campaign after waking, one morning, with a horse’s head in his bed. Well, whoever you are, GREAT line. The hell of it is, you’ll never get credit for it, if you know what’s good for you.
    Stornoway: Check for bed bugs. And any ex-Liberal MPs who may be squatting.
  • Michael Ignatieff has moved out of Stornoway. Now, I’m not saying Jack Layton and Olivia Chow face a huge mess when they first open the front door. But I do know that if the place is in half as bad a shape as the Liberal Party he left behind, Iggy ain’t getting his security deposit back.
  • Donald Trump has decided NOT to run for President. Too bad. Pretty sure he would have tried to take a chunk out of the national debt by building a lavish casino in the West Wing. Then, inviting Chinese President Ma Ying-jeour to the place and comp’ing him the Lincoln Bedroom, all the while ensuring he takes a bath at the tables.


They’ve brought back the Volkswagen Beetle. They’ve brought back the Mini-Cooper. Now, dammit, it’s time. bring back the AMC Gremlin. Stylish, affordable and way cool. Tell me it isn’t prettier than the Nissan Cube.

Harper Cabinet Shuffle: Swedish for Common Sense Revolution

The Prime Minister’s cabinet retooling is complete. Funny how the loss of a key member or three (Lawrence Cannon, Josee Verner, Jean-Pierre Blackburn) can set up a really high stakes version of musical chairs. Sources say that’s EXACTLY how it happened, by the way, with Tory MPs gathered in a room with 39 chairs. They all circled them nervously, while the Prime Minister played Nick Lowe’s “Cruel To Be Kind” on the piano. When he stopped — Yahtzee! Maxime Bernier had successfully knocked Rob Moore to the ground, and taken his seat as Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism.

Maxime Bernier: “Hon, you haven’t seen the Allen key, have you?

It was Bernier who’d made musical chairs necessary in the first place. He’d bought the Prime Minister’s new cabinet at the IKEA outlet in Nepean last night, but forgot the instructions at his girlfriend’s house when he left in haste this morning. By the way, IKEA  has an excellent selection of parliamentary cabinets, including the popular “Sinterblok,” as well as the twin-cabinets, the “Deef” and “Bakker.” Prime Minister Harper was hoping for the high-end, well-appointed “Sennit,” but Tony Clement, who’d had a premonition he was going to be seated in the “President of the Treasury Board” chair, asked that the Prime Minister relent and settle for the cheapest cabinet available, the finely trimmed “Budjitt.”

But, back to musical chairs. Bev Oda never did get up from her seat and remains Minister For Term Paper Grading International Co-operation Minister. John Baird flexed his considerable muscles of diplomacy and convinced a harried Julian Fantino to “get the hell out of my seat, you glorified mall cop!” Fantino shifted his buns one seat over, to become Assistant Minister of Defence. Uh, Assistant to the Minister of Defence.

Among others to find chairs they’d already been seated in were Jim Flaherty (Finance) and Peter MacKay (Defence). They both hovered over the Finance Minister’s chair, but Flaherty’s newly re-soled budget shoes gave him the agility of Hines Ward to MacKay’s Ralph Macchio. (Proud to say, I had to look that last reference up)

Magnanimously, the PM glanced up from the piano and waited for a couple of Toronto-area MPs to hover over vacant seats, proving that, while he won’t dance to Toronto’s tune, Toronto can damn well stop dancing and sit when he commands.

All in all, a nice, big shiny cabinet. Apparently, it ties the record shared by Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin. Maybe on the next trip to IKEA, they can set the stage for a record membership, by buying the Deluxe “Kokkis.”

Rookie MP Guidebook Part 2: Handling The Media

Today, a further look at the top-secret guidebook given to each and every one of Parliament Hill’s 105 rookie MPs.

In this installment, excerpts from the guidebook’s tips on handling the media.

Media scrums can be intimidating for a new MP.

As you make your way through the wonder of your first federal political term, you will find there are times when you are inevitably faced with the scrutiny of our friends in the media. These tips will help you survive these encounters, perhaps even find them enjoyable.

Be cordial. Smile. Offer them a mini-Toblerone from your jacket pocket. DO NOT offer them a mini-Toblerone from your PANTS pocket.

Compliment a reporter on past work. “I really enjoyed your piece on the budgetary fallout from the (insert applicable subject matter here).  It read just like a chapter from All The President’s Men!, can go a long way toward blinding a journalist to your simmering disdain for them and their entire lot.

Dangle the possibility of a patronage appointment. Say something like: “Damn if you don’t remind me of a young Pamela Wallin. If you wore more leopard prints, I’d swear you were already a senator!”

When faced with a situation in which you do not under any circumstances wish to comment, DO NOT say “no comment.” “No comment” now actually means “you got me,” or, “you know more than I do at this point,” or, “I didn’t know I couldn’t use government stationary to prank my university buddy into thinking he was being audited over his distribution of campus weed.”

Instead, offer up one of these newly-minted phrases designed to avoid a straight answer:

Rex Murphy. I believe this is a headshot from the time he starred on the TV series “Room 222.”

1.  “Good question. It’s one I’d certainly like to hear answered by the Honourable Member from South Simcoe-Dunder-Mifflin-Galt. They certainly have some explaining to do.” Then duck out the nearest door while the reporter pulls out their blackberry to find out who that is.

2. “Answer a question? Here? Now? What are you, from the Stone Age? Check my Twitter feed.”

3. “Look! Rick Mercer and a camera crew just followed Rona Ambrose into the ladies’ room!”

If being interviewed by Rex Murphy, do not look directly at him. He WILL hypnotize you. Usually, it’s just to get a straight answer. But he has been known to make the occasional rookie MP behave like they are the Minister of Silly Walks for an entire day, just for his own enjoyment.

An appearance on “Power & Politics” may be in the offing, at some point. If so, be sure not to tell CBC’s Evan Solomon that he’s “kinda like the journalism version of Doogie Howser.” He’s actually much older than he looks.

Conservative rookies are reminded NOT to greet members of SunMedia with the secret handshake, in public. A healthy slap on the back and a rousing “dude” will suffice.

NDP rookies are reminded NOT to greet members of the Toronto Star with the secret handshake, in public. A nurturing hug and a whispered “friend” will suffice.

Liberal and Bloc rookies: You are instructed NOT to greet ANYONE with any handshake of any kind, as you may still be contagious.

Green party rookies are rookie is reminded not to greet members of High Times with the secret handshake, in public. They won’t remember it, anyway.

Although it may be difficult not to, please remember that napping during an appearance on CTV’s “Question Period” is not actually acceptable for anyone other than Craig Oliver.

Avoid scrums, if possible, at all times. A group of Parliament Hill reporters will often take on the dynamic of the diseased victims in the “Resident Evil” film franchise. Although they will not eat the flesh of veteran politicians, you, as a rookie are susceptible, as your skin has not yet built up protective layers of cynicism and bitterness. Seriously, you’ll be like veal to these people.

Enjoy your relationship with Parliament Hill media! However, do everything humanly possible to sidestep an encounter with Chantal Hebert. She’s smarter than you. She’s smarter than all of us. Beware.

[box]Previously: Rookie Mp Guidebook Part 1[/box]

[box border=”full”]Next: Rookie MP Guidebook Part 3[/box]


The NHL Returns To Manitoba?

Wonderful development, isn’t it, for a region struggling with a grim annual rite of Spring? Manitoba could use a little good news. The seemingly imminent purchase and move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg won’t push back the rising floodwaters of the Assiniboine, but it has got to be tonic for weary Manitobans who, once again, have endured the endless, back-breaking toil of sandbag processions, and will endure the endless, heartbreaking toil of cleaning up after the disaster.

I recall, from afar, the great agony carved on the faces of their dedicated sports fans as, in the summer of 1995, it became apparent that there would be no last-ditch effort to miraculously keep the team from its exodus to the desert, and that they’d be playing one final, bittersweet season. I can vividly recall the rivers of tears on the faces of the faithful as the Jets made their farewell circles on the ice at the old Winnipeg Arena, in April, 1996. Soon after that, the region was hit with the worst Spring flooding it had seen since 1979. Coincidentally, that was the year the Jets joined the NHL.

So, now, it appears big league hockey will return to the land of the Golden Boy and the Golden Jet. Good on them.


Winnipeg’s MTS Centre. Brier, 2008.

I’m not from Winnipeg. In fact, I’ve only ever spent a few days total in that city, once when I visited to see a Brier, the other time a Blue Bomber game. I liked it a lot, and enjoyed the hospitality of some of the most wonderful people in the country. Good folks, they are. Hard-working, proud and yes, friendly, as the licence plates advertise.

It feels like a tremendously horrible sporting wrong is about to be righted, as the Jets get set to fly again.

So, chin up, Manitoba. The waters will soon recede, they always do. And you’ll emerge stronger for it. You always do, too. And this time, a great flood can herald the re-emergence of your hockey dreams, as opposed to swallowing them whole and carrying them South.


Unveiled: Top Secret Rookie MP Guidebook

The Parliament Hill Cafeteria Can Be a Scary Place For a Newcomer

With 105 rookie Members of Parliament being sworn in on The Hill, there’s bound to be some concern, confusion and consternation among them. Kind of like the first day of high school, without the threat of being hung, by your underwear, on your locker hook. At least, I don’t think they have to worry about that, although John Baird strikes me as someone who’d find that funny.

Rookie MPs: Almost exactly as depicted.

To ease the first day jitters of the fresh meat – er, wide-eyed, super-intelligent, rookies ready to inject a fresh, new energy to their caucus – the Clerk of the Speaker of the House of Commons sends them each a guide to rules and regulations of parliamentary life. It’s not meant to be seen by non – parliamentarians, however, I’ve managed to secure a copy and will give you some of the more important guidelines.

Today, I’ll focus on the rules of the Parliament Hill cafeteria. Here are some verbatim highlights:


As you make your way into the cafeteria for the first time, you’ll be handed two trays. One is for you, the other, for the veteran MP you’ve been assigned to serve. In some cases, NEITHER tray is for you. This means you’ve been assigned a senator. After bringing the tray, or trays, to your designated Luncheon Lord, or Lady, stand quietly, hands clasped behind your back. Wait, silently, until a request for napkin dabbing is made, or you are waved away contemptuously.

Sit in ROOKIE DESIGNATED AREA  ONLY. If you have trouble finding it, as it is not clearly marked, just follow the unmistakable smell of innocence and idealism dying.

“At my signal, unleash butterscotch pudding hell!”

If the Prime Minister enters after you are already in the cafeteria, you have TWO choices: Stand up immediately, or dive under your table until the threat of him seeing you has passed  (This does not apply to opposition members of Parliament, as there is no possibility of the Prime Minister actually noticing you). Do NOT make eye contact with the Prime Minister. If eye contact is inadvertently made, your dessert will automatically be forfeited to backbench scavengers.

Delivery of food items is available for members of the governing party ONLY. First time MPs will do the delivering. It will be guaranteed in 10 minutes. To assist you in speedy delivery, The Honourable Jack Layton has determined that his hip is sufficiently healed, and he no longer needs his EZ-Go cart. He has graciously donated it to Delivery Services. NOTE: Cart availability is subject to suspension, based on how energetic Senator Mike Duffy is feeling that day.  Plan ahead.

Food fights are not uncommon, but are to be started by governing party members ONLY. You will know that one is imminent, if The Honourable Jim Flaherty enters wearing a toga.

Seating arrangements are based on election results. Conservatives and members of the NDP in the main dining hall, Liberal Party members at the kiddie tables in the Centre Block Daycare. The Honourable Leader of the Green Party has not opted in to a meal plan, based on the unavailability of bean sprouts and willow bark tea.

Menu changes: With the securing of a majority government, it has been determined that “Pro-rogies” will no longer be available. One item has been added to the breakfast menu: Sausage, inside a rolled pancake. However, instead of being called “Piggies in a Blanket,” a Royal Commission on cafeteria foodstuffs has determined that they will be known as “Pork In A Barrel.” Not all food items will be available; the menu is subject to change, at any time, at the whim of The Honourable Bev Oda.

Finally, make sure to fill out the “How’d We Do?” comment cards after each and every cafeteria visit. As a newcomer to the Hill, your fresh perspective and new ideas on how the Government of Canada commissary is serving you are very important, and greatly valued. The Harper Government Action Plan Eatery is tired of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Just eat your food and get out.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Next: Part 2: Handling the Media[/box]